Online vs. In Person
After researching about the legal system here relating to sexual and gender based violence for a couple of months, I was very excited (and nervous) to be on ground and experience things. In some ways it is as I imagined. The people are kind, the weather beautiful (though it does rain a lot now as it is their rain season), and the progress tangible. I was very lucky to be here at this time, as today parliament concluded a 15+ year initiative and officially abolished the death penalty. I was fortunate and honored to be in the parliamentary chamber during the final discussion and vote.
While helping on some of the legal projects here I discovered that most of the legal doctrines of the country are statutory based or case law from before independence from the UK. I find it very interesting that the country has had very limited case records to build a defense (or prosecution) off of, as the lawyers and judges are still allowed to use case law in their materials. However, the case law used is based on the cases to which they have been party to and which they have private records of. It makes it so that certain attorneys and offices with longer records or more detailed records are equipped with tools that other attorney's simply do not have, and it also leaves room for judges to discredit some of the records. I did not dive deep into this while here, and there are efforts underway to reform it, but for a legal internship I found it extremely interesting.
The country itself is beautiful. I have mainly spent my time in Freetown where to get around the taxi's consist mainly of Keke's (tuk tuk's), and motorcycles. Personally I prefer to ride the motorbikes around as they are faster for darting between traffic, but I do cheat and hold onto the bar behind the seat. Everyone else rides on the back without holding onto anything, something I have yet to figure out how they manage with the steep hills and fast stops. There are no stop lights or stop signs here, and traffic is a first come first served affair, making not holding onto the bikes bar very impressive to me. The markets here are also very exciting, though unless you have a stomach for intensely hot seasoning the food can be a bit much. Dishes with 'no pepper' are about as hot as the hottest choice of wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. I accidentally ate one meal with normal pepper, and it destroyed my insides for several days.
As the concluding post for my internship, it has been an incredible experience and I am deeply grateful for it. Researching sexual and gender based violence, helping with general research and publications, traveling to Africa for the first time, and so much more has been very fulfilling. I am so grateful for the privilege and opportunity to have worked with AdvocAid Sierra Leone.